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Friday, June 30, 2017

Renowned Scientist Prof. Zhi-Xun Shen Gives CEIBS Master Class

June 30, 2017. Shanghai – “Social Trends and Tech Innovation Opportunities” was the title of the CEIBS Master Class given today by world-renowned scientist Professor Zhi-Xun Shen at CEIBS Shanghai Campus. Dr. Shen is the Paul Pigott Professor in Physical Sciences, and a senior fellow of the Precourt Institute for Energy at Stanford University. His research has advanced our understanding of materials related to basic energy sciences, including the physics of superconductors, oxides, and semiconductors.  

Dr. Shen’s research has been recognized with several prestigious awards, including the Kamerlingh Onne Prize, an international prize on superconductivity; the E.O. Lawrence Awards; the Oliver E. Buckley Prize; and the Einstein Professorship from the Chinese Academy of Sciences. He has also been elected into the prestigious National Academy of Sciences, one of the highest honours in American science that recognizes outstanding original research achievements. Dr. Shen is also an inventor, entrepreneur and investor, and is a Co-founder of Astronergy Inc., PrimeNano Inc., and LDV Partners.

In his introduction of Dr. Shen, CEIBS Vice President and Co-Dean Prof. Zhang Weijiong noted the immense influence that research efforts into superconductors can have on human civilisation.

In his lecture, Dr. Shen said that superconductors remain one of the most difficult fields in physics, even though they already have many practical applications in areas such as medical treatment, transportation, electricity, wireless communication, ultrafast electronics and quantum computing. The latest research advances in this field have looked at ways to combine superconductors’ photoelectron spectroscopy with an ultrafast laser to create a real-time film of atoms and electrons with unprecedented precision.   

What inspires scientists to explore a subject like superconductivity? “As a scientist, you will always try to be challenged by the most difficult topic,” Shen said. “But when you are doing research, you must be sensitive towards the priorities of the real world.” 

Superconductivity is a physical phenomenon that was discovered in 1911 in the Netherlands. It can be used to measure the physical concepts of hydrogen, optimize the physical properties of metal, and discover new characteristics of a specific metal. Another nature of superconductivity is its diamagnetic force, which is why magnetic suspension works. Dr. Shen told the audience to think of it like a school of fish swimming in the same direction, which gives them all a better chance at surviving predators. Similarly, superconductivity involves a group of electronics in superconductive materials that work in the same direction.

Albert Einstein, renowned for his theory of relativity, won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1921 for his discovery of the photoelectric effect. Dr. Shen seeks to extend Einstein’s work by applying the photo-electric effect to microscopy, adapting a form of technology that will change how people are able to view the world.

Dr. Shen said he is confident that research advances in the superconductor field will mark the advent of a new age of human civilization, in the same way that silicon technology contributed to the information revolution that has shaped the present era. He pointed out that the work done by scientists using silicon in the development of integrated circuits and semiconductors eventually led to the founding of companies such as Intel. He also predicted that changing demographics and the growth of the middle class will provide an eager audience for future technological innovations.

Population growth is one of the biggest societal changes that mankind has experienced in recent history, he said. It has required the development of large-scale industrialized agriculture in order to be able to sustain the population. Now, scientists are taking this one step further, looking to develop technology that can make the agriculture industry more efficient and reliable. Dr. Shen gave the example of a Stanford scientist, Pat Brown, who founded the company Impossible Foods Inc. The ultimate goal of Brown’s work is to eliminate industrial animal husbandry by shifting to a process which will be more beneficial for the environment.             

Following his lecture, Dr. Shen engaged in a lively Q&A session with the audience. Prof. Zhang Weijiong closed the Master Class by presenting Dr. Shen with a gift on behalf of the School.

The CEIBS Master Class lecture series began in 2014, and has featured many top scholars and business leaders. Prior speakers have included Wanda Group Chairman Wang Jianlin, Fosun Group Founder & Chairman Guo Guangchang, TCL Founder & CEO Li Dongsheng, Nobel Laureate Prof. Lars Peter Hansen, and Economist Stephen Roach.

Ecom Lu